The first detailed description of “offene Communicationen”, or protoplasmic connecting threads is usually attributed to Tangl (1879) although other workers subsequently contested his precedence. However, Tangl was the first botanist to write at length on these structures and his article stimulated a spate of publications which described such connections between cells from all parts of the plant kingdom (for fuller details refer to Meeuse, 1941b; 1957, and Chapter 14). In 1901 Strasburger used the term “Plasmodesmen” to describe the protoplasmic connections and, despite numerous other suggestions (see Meeuse, 1957), the word has survived the test of time and is now almost universally accepted (English — plasmodesma — Gk. plasma, form; desma, bond — Plu. plasmodesmata). Virtually all the early investigations involved treatment of cells to cause swelling of the wall so that plasmodesmata could be demonstrated by optical microscopy. This led to many criticisms and, as recently as 1964, Livingston reconsidered the “nature of plasmodesmata in normal (living) plant tissue”, so highlighting the problem that has been with us for over 80 years.


Endoplasmic Reticulum Sieve Tube Sieve Element Salt Gland Methyl Violet 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. W. Robards
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Developmental Biology, Research School of Biological SciencesThe Australian National UniversityCanberra CityAustralia

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